Workspaces are the user interface that sits on top of the versioning concept, to make it easier for users to manage versions.

Furthermore workspaces make it possible to create a number of stages for validation of any given change, thus providing a complete review process before publication. Users at all stages can be notified about changes in the review process.

A workspace is a state in the backend of TYPO3 CMS. Basically there are two types of workspaces:

  • LIVE workspace: this is exactly the state TYPO3 CMS has always been in. Any change you make will be instantly live. Nothing has changed, it just got a name.

    Access to the Live workspace must be explicitly granted to backend users and groups (in the "Mounts and Workspaces" tab).

  • Custom workspaces: when users select a custom workspace new rules apply to anything they do in the backend:

    • Safety: any change they try to make will not affect the live website. It's a safe playground.
    • Transparent versioning: they can edit pages and elements because a new version is made automatically and attached to the workspace. No training needed, no administrative overhead!
    • Previewing: visiting the frontend website will display it as it will appear when all versions in the workspace are eventually published.
    • Overview of changes: the workspace manager module gives a clear overview of all changes that have been made inside the workspace across the site. This gives unparalleled control before making the content live.
    • Constraints: only tables that support versioning can be edited.
    • Flexibility: custom workspaces can be configured with owners, members and reviewers plus database mounts and more. A custom workspace can thus offer a more targeted editing area than backend users and groups. Plus a review process as simple or complete as needed.

Publishing and swapping

There are two ways to publish an element in a workspace; publish or swap. In both cases the draft content is published live. But when swapping it means the current live element is attached to the workspace when taken offline. This is contrary to the publish mode which pushes the live item out of any workspace and "into the archive".

The swapping mode is useful if you have a temporary campaign, say a Christmas special frontpage and website section. You create the Christmas edition in a custom workspace and two weeks before Christmas you swap in the Christmas edition. All normal pages and elements that were unpublished are now in the workspace, waiting for Christmas to pass by and eventually the old frontpage etc. will be swapped back in. The Christmas edition is now back in the workspace and ready for next year.

Extensions and workspaces

Workspaces imply transparent support all over the backend and frontend and extensions must be programmed with this in mind. Although the ideal is complete transparency in backend and perfect previews in the frontend, this is almost impossible to obtain. Nevertheless a high level of consistency can be obtained by using the API provided by TYPO3 CMS. These functions and the challenges they are designed to address are discussed in TYPO3 Explained.